Jury Trials Are Extended To Copyright Disputes

1998

When a local television station owner falls behind in payments to broadcast such programs as “Who’s the Boss?” and “T.J. Hooker,” Columbia Pictures ends its agreement with him. The station owner continues to show the programs, and Columbia sues for copyright infringement. Columbia wins this case and seeks payment for damages. The judge denies the station owner’s request for a jury trial and conducts a bench trial (a trial heard by a judge without a jury). Columbia is awarded the damages it seeks. The station owner appeals, and in Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc. (1998), the Supreme Court rules that the station owner is guaranteed the right to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment.